Behind The Scenes of Launching A Business
I am excited to share the news that my new company Spell Well LLC, has been born. The first stage of starting a company is to identify a problem and consider a solution to that problem. Research says that people support businesses that offer a solution to a problem that they are having.
Spell Well in a nutshell is a company that will offer educational courses and products in order to help them experience greater mental, physical, spiritual and emotional alignment in order to help them manifest their dreams and goals. Spell Well is the 2nd company that I am building. The first was Art of Culture Inc. (formerly called Donda's House Inc.). Art of Culture is celebrating it's 5th birthday this year and is continuing to support young artists and creatives in the Chicagoland Area. I am also pretty heavily involved in supporting my husband's Rhymefest brand.
So what is it like to build a second company? How am I carrying the lessons from building the first company over to the 2nd one?
(1) Writing a business plan is essential as early as possible. There are so many decisions that have to be made when you start a new enterprise. You have to consider the products and services you will offer. You have to determine the strategic alliances and partnerships you will pursue. A business plan is one way to get all of your ideas out in one place. It is the opportunity for you to prioritize your activities. Contrary to popular belief it is also a super creative process. As you are meeting with partners and investors, a business plan will be your roadmap. It helps you to articulate who you are in the market and set a course for where you are headed.
We didn't create the Art of Culture Business plan until Year 2 of operations and I was shocked at how much clarity and direction it brought once we did that. To this day, we refer to our business plan when making decisions about programming. It is also the place where we shelve future ideas. When the time is right we are able to move those ideas to the development and implementation phase.
(2) On developing a social media presence.
Social Media is essential in developing brand awareness and connecting to potential supporters. Social Media gives you the opportunity to give your brand an identity and it allows you to communicate that message to the world unfiltered.
Art of Culture Inc. built a following organically on social media to over 30,000 followers. We are super proud of that and our social media continues to be the primary place that people meet our brand. Social Media is also an extension of our mission of providing access and information.
A Marketing Strategist shared a formula for me a couple of years ago. She said that social media should be 80% about the people following you and 20% about yourself. In other words, you have to figure out how your brand can connect to and support those who decide to click the "follow" button. You have to give them value. I have also learned the power of a good campaign on social media. Past campaigns included "Rewrite the Narrative" and "Deck the Halls of DH."We generally do a campaign for Giving Tuesday (the Tuesday after Thanksgiving). We also do an end of the year campaign.
Invest in good photos and video content. These resources have been really helpful for me in developing content for Spell Well:
Free & High Resolution Stock Photos - Pexel - https://www.pexels.com/
This site helps you avoid copyright infringement as the photographers determine the licensing agreements right there on the side of the image. Most of the photos are fine for personal and commercial use.
Design & Document Creator - Canva - https://about.canva.com/
Canva has beautiful templates for social media, documents, presentations and more. There is a paid version of the App that I've been using for about 3 years now. It really helps take your visuals and aesthetics to the next level, which matters on social media.
Social Media Publisher - Hootsuite - https://hootsuite.com/
Consistency is one of the most important things for social media. It is time consuming. For Art of Culture, we actually hired people to assist with managing our social media accounts which lead to exponential growth. (Shout out to our first Social Media Manager - Kelsey, and our 2nd Social Media Manager - Hakim).
Hootsuite allows you to schedule posts. The only thing you can't do is automatically post videos to Instagram. In those cases I just make a note in my calendar for Spell Well and do it first thing in the morning on those days. Hootsuite has a paid version that is totally worth the investment. It gives me peace of mind to know that something will be posted at least once a day on Instagram for Spell Well. Our audiences comes to expect things from us based on the rhythm that we set. Once a day is considered consistent enough but you may want to increase or decrease the frequency depending on the nature of your business. It is also important to diversify your content. People don't want to see the different versions of the same content every day. For example, Spell Well has bracelets available. My audience would get bored if I only posted photos of our bracelets every day, but I try to be very strategic about showcasing photos of the bracelets periodically so that people know we have them!
As far as video content I am sharing other people's stuff on Spell Well with plans on developing original content in 2019. Research suggests that content that includes video is more likely to be engaged with on social media.
I usually work on social media content every two weeks on Sundays. Right now, Spell Well is only on Instagram, with plans to start posting some stuff on Facebook soon. Here is the format I use for developing content:
(3) Thought partners are key. There are a few people in my network... Shout out to ya'll, who give me great advice and great ideas. Be prepared for people to push back... ask questions... poke holes. Those are all things that help you improve your products, services and strategy. I have also been spending a lot of time on this website.
(4) How I organize my paperwork and time.
I love binders as organizers. I am sure that I carried that over from my teaching days. Binders are durable, and they make it easy to keep everything on one place. Even with my students I always recommended carrying one large (zipper) binder for all of the classes to keep up with notes and remain organized.
I have the following dividers in the binder:
Here is the index of the dividers and also the structure of the business:
Tech & Equipment
The blank tab is where I keep the Business Plan, just haven't had time to add the label ;)
The final thing that I have that is important is my Social Media/Content Notebook:
Note: This article was originally published in October of 2018 on my old site, but it was so good, I wanted to republish it here.